“Whenever women gather together in circle,
there is spiritual power”
This month, on the weekend of the autumnal equinox, Circles of Empowerment is hosting the 24th annual Long Dance ceremony for women. This Long Dance is a revival of the ancient indigenous ceremony dedicated to the gathering of women for the purpose of healing, support, and building community. Over the last two decades, Long Dance has become a place of teaching for women who are looking for a way to reconnect with the cycles and rhythms, which are the nature of our feminine experience.
For those of us that find ourselves drawn back to the ceremony, it is a conduit through which we can connect with our higher selves and honor the sacred mother earth. For a woman who is open to the possibility, it can be a time for the deepest of healings. Some women attend and find out that they simply may not be ready for the changes Long Dance can bring about. However, the beauty of Long Dance is that you take from it what you put into it. Anyone who becomes a repeat participant will tell you that dancing in Long Dance can be one of the most difficult, yet rewarding endeavors we take on as women.
One aspect that can prove difficult for many first timers is the act of simply staying in the circle all night. We request that every woman stay within the energetic boundaries of the ceremonial village from dusk till dawn so as to protect our circle’s energetic integrity. For this purpose, every year, we build a ceremonial village. The village is meant to have everything a dancer could possibly need to get through the night. There is a Wellness Lodge and five wisdom teepees located on the outskirts of the dance circle. The teepees house: the Moon Lodge, Mother Lodge, Grandmother Lodge, Fire Lodge, and Drum Lodge. We also build the most beautiful latrines you will ever see inside a ceremony.
The first three lodges are representational of the various stages in the life of a woman. They are meant to be a safe place of teaching and reverence. You may stop by at any given point in the night to receive a teaching or just sit to reflect and meditate. The Drum Lodge is our heart beat and houses three mother drums to remain beating steadily until the sun comes up over the eastern mountain. The Fire Lodge houses the Firekeepers: the women who tend to the five sacred fires, keeping them safe, stoked and contained. The final lodge lies outside the boundaries of the dancer’s field of vision. This is the Thunder Lodge, which is located well beyond the perimeter of the dance circle, and remains unseen throughout the night. It is a place for brothers, and is an integral part of the village. Though this ceremony is centered on the gathering and healing of women, it is essential to have balance with the masculine energies. The brothers hold space for the dancers, providing support and guardianship, honoring our feminine processes during ceremony.
Long Dance maybe just one night of ceremony, but by participating in such potent energy work, one is also committing to walking with these directional medicines for the entire year. This year Circles of Empowerment welcomes you to join us in ceremony as we hail the direction of the North: A place of earth, buffalo, the stars and spirit. So if you find yourself considering participation in this remarkable ceremony, ask yourself this one question: “Am I ready to get my Long Dance on?”
Join us for the Twenty-Fourth Annual Woman’s Long Dance Ceremony. We invite sisters to dance, sing and pray together at the equinox, for a weekend of ceremony, teachings, celebration and healing under the stars. September 18-21, 2014. For further information visit these websites: longdance.org or circlesofempowerment.org or you may call (805)481-0892.